Writing off a home office used for volunteer work?
December 4, 2007 9:11 AM   Subscribe

I write off my home office every year as a legitimate business expense. This year I did not focus on freelance projects and did a lot of volunteer/pro bono work. What do I need to know about writing it off this year? I'll seek out a CPA, but I'd like to be knowledgeable first. Anybody ever get themselves into a similar situation?

The reason I'm asking is because I know you need to "materially participate" in a business in order to write it off, but this year I won't have any income from the business...I still used my office weekly, however it was for work I didn't expect to be paid for. I figure this is analogous to somebody trying to start a start-up, for instance.
posted by taumeson to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I still used my office weekly, however it was for work I didn't expect to be paid for. I figure this is analogous to somebody trying to start a start-up, for instance.

IANATaxGuy, but it's not the same.

Volunteer work does not count.
posted by unixrat at 9:18 AM on December 4, 2007


I'm not a tax expert, but a quick google search suggests out-of-pocket expenses for volunteer work are deductable. That's ONLY if you the expenses are entirely for volunteer work though, you can't write it off your personal internet connection just because you also use it as part of your volunteer work.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:36 AM on December 4, 2007


IANACPA but my spouse is. If you itemize (rather than taking the standard deduction), you can deduct cash donated to charities, the value of property donated to charities, and you can deduct mileage you spent driving to volunteer for charities.

But you can't write off your labor -- and based on what you've shared here, you wouldn't be eligible to deduct your home office or your expenses.

I realize it seems analogous to a start-up, but it's really not. You chose to do work for free instead of using your home office toward earning income; unfortunately, the IRS doesn't really care that what you did use the office for was noble and good.

Allegedly, there are legislative discussions on the horizon about improving the tax benefits for people who volunteer and contribute to charity... but for now, you've basically got naught but the good karma in your pocket.
posted by pineapple at 10:09 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


For posterity's sake, pineapple has it when she says:

unfortunately, the IRS doesn't really care that what you did use the office for was noble and good.

oh well!
posted by taumeson at 5:33 AM on December 6, 2007


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